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Gerrans wins Liège-Bastogne-Liège 2014

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Cyclingnews

Martin crashes in final attack

Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) won a nail-biting finale to the last Spring Classic of 2014, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, topping Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) with a perfectly timed attack in the final meters.

Gerrans had kept his nose out of the wind for much of the day, not panicking when the other favourites sent numerous attacks off the front. Gerrans only made himself known after the final corner when he jumped onto the front to start his sprint. Once he was there nobody could touch him, not even the in-form Valverde.

The Orica-GreenEdge rider had to thank the huge efforts of his teammates, who ensured that the numerous escapees were ultimately brought back and he gave Pieter Weening a huge hug after the finish. This win is Gerrans’ second monument victory after he won Milan-San Remo in 2012.

“To win any Liège-Bastogne-Liège is very special, but the fact it’s the 100th edition really puts my name in the history of the race, it’s a real honour. Our team got some fantastic results in 100th edition of Tour last year, and now to do that again - maybe that’s a good omen.”

Movistar rider, Valverde looked disappointed with second as he stood on the podium. The Spaniard went into the race as the outright favourite, after his commanding victory at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. Even against Gerrans, it was thought that Valverde might have the speed to overhaul him, but it wasn’t to be.

"Everyone asks you to win, but we're taking about Liège-Bastogne-Liège - it's extremely difficult to make it," Valverde said. "People may be accustomed to see me winning, but I'm really happy with this second place. One, two and four in these three classics - I don't think there are many people who can achieve that. I think I rode well today, I kept the position I had to, but there was so many people fighting for victory today, so nervous and out of control. I must be thankful towards the Izagirre brothers, because they calmed things down pushing at the front. The team was sensational, just like every day."

Kwiatkowski didn’t stand a chance against Valverde and Gerrans, but the 23-year-old managed to hang onto their coattails as they flew past a lagging Damiano Caruso (Katusha). The Ardennes have been a very successful week for Kwiatkowski, and third place at Liège sees him make his first podium at a monument.

"I believed the chance would be for the bunch sprint and I was waiting to see how we could make it," Kwiatkowski said. "I believe in my possibilities, and especially today I am satisfied with what I did. Last year I made good results in these races but couldn't finish well here. So it was a little disappointing. But this year I prepared in a different way and today was my best day on the bike out of all the Ardennes Classics. It gives me great morale for the future knowing this."

Defending champion Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) looked perfectly poised to win his second title in Ans, after he chased down Caruso and Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) on the final climb. He was in the wheel of Caruso going into the final corner when his back wheel went from under him and sent him tumbling to the ground.

“I’m obviously devastated,” Martin told the press after he stepped off the Garmin-Sharp bus.

“It’s one thing to make a mistake or know what you’ve done but we figure that there’s a patch of oil or something. I think I had tears in my eyes before I even hit the floor. There aren’t really words for it. To race for seven hours and for that to happen on the last corner…. it’s poetry.”

How it unfolded

The 100th edition of one of cycling's most iconic and prized events began in the centre of Liège under calm blue skies. 'A beautiful day of racing' was how defending champion Dan Martin described it and he wasn't far wrong. The king of Belgium brought the sunshine with him as he attended and when the peloton rolled out the only notable absentees were Chris Froome and Carlos Betancur, both too ill to race.

Pirimin Lang (IAM Cycling), Michel Koch (Cannondale), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Pieter Jakobs (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Marco Minnaard (Wanty Groupe Gobert) initiated the break of the day and after 36km of racing had built up a lead of 11:20. That soon rose to a peak of 15:50 by the first climb of the day after 70km.

However on the Côte de Wanne some of the shoulders within the break began to slowly drop. Their lead had dipped under the ten minute barrier with Minnaard the first rider to slip backwards.

Back in the bunch, just as they reached the province de Liège, a crash took down pre-race favourite Roman Kreuziger. Omega Pharma Quickstep, looking to keep Kwiatkowski out of danger moved to the front but they also saw Jan Bakelants fall.

Up until that point it had been other teams who had controlled the break with Thomas Dekker (Garmin) and Steve Cummings (BMC) on the front for the majority of the first 130 kilometres of racing.

The Côte de Wanne was a far more significant climb for the bunch when moments later there was a split – partly a result of the earlier crash – with Samuel Sanchez and Michael Rogers among those that were forced to chase.

It was as if the race woke up from its slumber, the peloton aware that the Stockeu would offer them the first chance to shed the weak, before the Côte de la Haute-Levee would leave the stragglers with little chance to make it back.

One of those stragglers was Joaquim Rodriguez. The Katusha hotshot beginning to crumble with a shake of the head and wry smile as his team huddled around him.

It was game over for last year's runner-up, a timely reminder that Liège offers no hiding place, and on the crest of the climb Europcar looked to turn the screws and make sure the Spaniard never saw the front again.

World Champion Rui Costa saw his race chances evaporate soon after, falling with 75km remaining. The break were now five minutes clear but the tension in the bunch saw the field splinter as attacks and counter moves stretched along the landscape.

The pace remained high on the Côte de la Vecquee, allowing the field to take stock and ready themselves for La Redoute.

The climb, awash with more than 10,000 passionate fans, saw Tony Martin set the pace on the front of the peloton. Valverde, Kwiatkowski, Valverde, Nibali and Dan Martin: they were all present and near the front as the break – which exploded on the climb - saw their advantage cut to 1:40 by the summit. Warren Barguil attempted to cause a split but when he looked back he found himself alone until Jan Bakelants and Julian Arredondo closed the gap. Only the QuickStep rider persisted.

Bakelants didn’t get far before the peloton caught him once again. The former under-23 Liège - Bastogne - Liège champion soon found himself waiting for the car with yet another mechanical problem. Minus Bakelants, the peloton continued to encroach on the advantage of the one remaining leader. After the demise of Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Bono was beginning to look like the team’s only chance for glory.

Behind Bono the action was really beginning to hot up on the Côte des Forges, as the favourites began attacking each other. Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) looked like he might be attempting to emulate Ryder Hesjedal’s move of 2013. The young American drew a few riders with him, but Movistar and BMC were still had numbers and he only achieved in bringing the peloton closer to Bono.

As the race edged closer to the final ascents of the day the dig off the front became ever increasing. Arredondo saw another opportunity on the Côte de La Roche-aux-Faucons, this time he took Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R-La Mondiale) along for the ride. The duo built up a small lead that had the following group of favourites a little worried. BMC sent Samuel Sanchez off in pursuit, but he’d left it too late and had to wait for the other’s to bring the pair back.

With only the Côte de Saint-Nicolas remaining, the group became one again, leaving us with a mouth-watering number of possibilities for the finish. Movistar and Orica-GreenEdge shared the efforts on the front with BMC as they drove their way up the final climb. Determined to make a move stick, Pozzovivo went again, following the wheel of Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha). As the favourites looked at each other to see who would make the first move, the two riders built up a small lead.

Dan Martin finally took the initiative to chase them down and finally joined forces with Caruso towards the top of the final unclassified ascent into Ans. The Garmin rider looked like he might be onto his second consecutive victory until he crashed out on the final corner. With Martin down, the race came down to a bunch sprint. Gerrans put in a strong effort to hold off Valverde, with Kwiatkowski slipping into third over Caruso, for the second race running.

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Full Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge 6:37:43  
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team    
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
4 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha    
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:03  
6 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Garmin Sharp    
7 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo    
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
9 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha 0:00:05  
10 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:06  
11 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:00:08  
12 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:10  
13 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
14 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar    
15 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:12  
16 Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
17 Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp - Endura    
18 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr    
19 Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing    
20 Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling    
21 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida    
22 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling    
23 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:00:17  
24 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:19  
25 Julian David Arredondo Moreno (Col) Trek Factory Racing    
26 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 0:00:23  
27 Mathias Frank (Swi) IAM Cycling    
28 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:00:31  
29 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:00:48  
30 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:51  
31 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 0:00:56  
32 Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:01:09  
33 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha    
34 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica Greenedge 0:01:11  
35 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol 0:01:27  
36 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar    
37 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:01:29  
38 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:01:31  
39 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 0:01:37  
40 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica Greenedge 0:02:26  
41 Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica Greenedge    
42 Jerome Coppel (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
43 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
44 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha    
45 Paul Martens (Ger) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
46 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:02:51  
47 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
48 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
49 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
50 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha 0:02:53  
51 David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura 0:03:33  
52 José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp - Endura    
53 Arnold Jeannesson (Fra) FDJ.fr    
54 Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp - Endura    
55 Daan Olivier (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
56 Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia    
57 Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura 0:03:33  
58 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka    
59 Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia    
60 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing 0:03:33  
61 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
62 Bob Jungels (Lux) Trek Factory Racing    
63 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
64 Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team Katusha    
65 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
66 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
67 Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:03:47  
68 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:54  
69 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team    
70 Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky 0:05:16  
71 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale    
72 Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
73 Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
74 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin Sharp    
75 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team    
76 Christophe Riblon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
77 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp 0:05:16  
78 John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team 0:06:19  
79 Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:07:10  
80 WoutPoels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
81 Matthew Busche (USA) Trek Factory Racing 0:08:05  
82 Alex Howes (USA) Garmin Sharp    
83 Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia    
84 Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling    
85 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team 0:08:07  
86 Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team    
87 Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team    
88 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team 0:08:28  
89 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica Greenedge 0:08:52  
90 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:09:20  
91 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling 0:09:26  
92 Laurent Pichon (Fra) FDJ.fr    
93 Francis De Greef (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:10:01  
94 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:10:12  
95 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge 0:10:43  
96 Rafael Valls Ferri (Spa) Lampre-Merida 0:11:41  
97 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
98 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
99 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
100 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
101 Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
102 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp - Endura    
103 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp    
104 Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Colombia    
105 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo 0:11:41  
106 Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale    
107 Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar    
108 Jaco Venter (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka    
109 Edward Beltran (Col) Tinkoff-Saxo    
110 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) FDJ.fr    
111 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge 0:12:01  
112 Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar    
113 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale 0:12:08  
114 Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:12:11  
115 Christian Meier (Can) Orica Greenedge 0:12:15  
116 Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
117 Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia    
118 Frantisek Padour (Cze) Team NetApp - Endura    
119 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team    
120 Peter Velits (Svk) BMC Racing Team    
121 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
122 Martijn Keizer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling    
123 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team    
124 Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team    
125 Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
126 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team    
127 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Cannondale    
128 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo    
129 Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar    
130 Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling    
131 Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale    
132 David Tanner (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
133 Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale    
134 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
135 Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
136 Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano 0:13:27  
136 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin Sharp 0:13:47  
DNF Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin Sharp    
DNF Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha    
DNF Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Dmitry Kozontchuk (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia    
DNF Juan Esteban Arango Carvajal (Col) Colombia    
DNF Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Jérôme Gilbert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
DNF Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Marco Minnaard (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
DNF Nelson Simoes (Por) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
DNF Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
DNF José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling    
DNF Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling    
DNF Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale    
DNF Michel Koch (Ger) Cannondale    
DNF Jean-Marc Marino (Fra) Cannondale    
DNF Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky    
DNF Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Cheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNF Andy Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
DNF Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
DNF Arthur Vanoverberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
DNF Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
DNF Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar    
DNF Natnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar    
DNF Erick Rowsell (GBr) Team NetApp - Endura    
DNF Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Bruno Pires (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Laurent Mangel (Fra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ.fr    
DNF Songezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Jack Bobridge (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky    
DNF Joshua Edmondson (GBr) Team Sky    
DNF David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Team Sky    
DNF Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNF Michael Rogers (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo    
DNF Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Andres Torres Agudelo (Col) Colombia    
DNF Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNS Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky    
DNS Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale